Owen Farrell is set to reclaim England’s No 10 shirt from Marcus Smith for their final Six Nations game against Grand Slam-chasing Ireland – with Steve Borthwick also recalling Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade for trip to Dublin
- Borthwick has made changes after England’s humiliating defeat to France
- England beat defending champions Ireland in 2019 in Dublin with the same trio
- George Ford is also available for selection after playing 80 minutes for Sal
Owen Farrell is set to reclaim the England No 10 shirt from Marcus Smith in Dublin as Steve Borthwick prepares to go back to the future by deploying the midfield trio who upset Ireland four years ago.
In 2019, the national team went to the Irish capital in round one of the Six Nations and beat the reigning Grand Slam champions 32-20 – in what was regarded as one of the finest victories of Eddie Jones’s tenure as head coach.
Now, his successor is ready to re-deploy the same 10-12-13 axis who starred in that momentous victory; captain Farrell, Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade.
Borthwick is due to announce his line-up tomorrow evening but, barring any late disruption, sources have indicated to Mail Online Sport that Farrell will return at fly-half, after occupying a bench role last weekend as Smith wore 10 against France.
The skipper came on early in the second half of that mis-match at Twickenham but was unable to turn the tide as the title-holders romped to a record 53-10 win which sent shockwaves around English rugby.
Owen Farrell is set to reclaim his place at number 10 for England against Ireland this weekend
Manu Tuilagi (left) and Henry Slade (right) are set to line up alongside Farrell in midfield
Steve Borthwick has reverted back to the trio that upset Ireland four years ago
For now, it is unclear whether Smith will be retained as a replacement – as is likely – or left out of the match-day 23 entirely, to make way for George Ford, who is now deemed to be available for selection after playing 80 minutes for Sale last weekend.
His return from a serious Achilles injury has created further competition and intrigue in relation to playmaker selection. There is a possibility that Borthwick will make a late call about his back-up fly-half, with the weather a factor to consider.
Tuilagi’s return in midfield is a major turn-around for a veteran who appeared to have very little chance of being involved in this Six Nations, after being sent off during a Sale game last month, for thrusting his forearm into Tommy Freeman’s head at Northampton.
Borthwick had already left him out of match-day squads in the first two rounds amid the heartening re-emergence of Ollie Lawrence, but the Bath centre is out with a hamstring injury, which created a vacancy.
England lacked clout in the collisions against France and Tuilagi is undoubtedly capable of addressing that glaring shortcoming in the Red Rose repertoire. He may also be regarded as a lucky charm in this next fixture, having played six times against Ireland and won the lot.
In 2019, his rampaging early carries set a thunderous tone and the visitors didn’t look back, with Slade scoring two tries and Farrell kicking 12 points in a famous win.
England were humbled by France at Twickenham last weekend as their struggled continued
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